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What is Biotin and what does it do?

3 min read

Biotin is an essential micronutrient for all mammals and is a member of the B-Complex group of vitamins. B vitamins are necessary for a healthy nervous system and also help metabolise fats, proteins and amino acids. 

Biotin is also known as Vitamin B7 and in the past has been referred to as 'Vitamin H'. Biotin, like all of the B-complex vitamins, has an essential role within your body

Biotin is a water soluble vitamin, this means that the body doesn't store it, so in order to maintain an adequate amount in the body it must form part of your daily diet.

Food sources 

It is found in small amounts in a variety of foods, good dietary sources include egg yolks, swiss chard, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, carrots, almonds, brewer’s yeast, sardines, onions, cabbage, cucumber, green peas, cauliflower, mushrooms, soy beans, goat’s milk, cow’s milk, raspberries, strawberries, halibut, oats, walnuts, sunflower seeds, bulgur and brown rice. Eating these foods and food products will help your body in maintaining a good level of Biotin. If you suspect that you may be suffering a Biotin deficiency, give consideration to a Biotin supplement.

Maintains a healthy metabolism 

Biotin is very important in several of your bodily functions, especially those related to your metabolism. This vitamin processes nearly every type of food that you ingest, including the macronutrients carbohydrates, protein and fat. Biotin, along with the other B-Complex vitamins, has the main function of helping your body to process energy, and of carrying carbon dioxide through your body. Your sweat glands, nerve tissue and bone marrow also function at their peak efficiency when you have sufficient Biotin levels.Your doctor may even prescribe a biotin supplement if you suffer from metabolic issues, since it can help to get your metabolism functioning normally relatively quickly. It is also sometimes used to help treat intestinal problems (irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, chronic diarrhoea), seizures, and skin conditions such as seborrhoeic dermatitis.

Regulates blood sugar levels 

Biotin plays a major role in your blood glucose production. Since Biotin is heavily involved in the breakdown of carbohydrates within your body, it is largely responsible for keeping your blood sugar at healthy levels. If you suffer from diabetes, you may be given a Biotin supplement as a way to help regulate your blood sugar levels. 

Promotes healthy hair, skin and nails 

Most people seem to know Biotin as being beneficial to the health of their skin, hair and nails. Biotin plays an important role in the growth and maintenance of healthy hair and nails. If you suffer from a Biotin deficiency, you will typically experience hair loss and brittle nails, taking supplements of this vitamin may help to reverse this process. Even though hair loss is rarely caused by a Biotin deficiency in your body, this problem can quite often be helped if you take Biotin supplements regularly. Even if you have normal Biotin levels, you may choose to take Biotin as a supplement with the aim of using its ability to stimulate rapid hair and nail growth. Due to the fact that Biotin's role in maintaining healthy hair is clinically proven‏, you'll find many Biotin enriched shampoos on the market. 

Important for women during pregnancy 

Biotin is crucial for healthy foetal development, making adequate intake of this vitamin important during pregnancy. Rapidly dividing cells in the foetus requires large amounts of biotin, causing a mild deficiency during pregnancy in many women.  The recommended dietary intake is the same for pregnant women as non-pregnant women - 30 mcg per day. 

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A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.